February 6th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
4 years ago

National Republican Congressional Campaign using fake Democrat websites to lure voters

(CNN) - A warning this election season: If you are searching the Web for information on Democratic congressional candidates, read the fine print.

At least 15 websites that appear to be official campaign sites for Democratic candidates, are actually the handiwork of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In an effort to improve their online efforts this election season, the NRCC’s digital team came up with what the group believes is a great idea: get out the Republican message through fake Democrat sites.

“The idea is people who are looking for information on the candidate, one of the places we all go now is online and so this is a way for folks to find out more about the candidates and information they may not find on the candidate’s own site,” said Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary.

The NRCC bought up hundreds of URLs on potential weak Democratic candidates and created sites that mimic the real ones.

It may sound deceiving, but Scarpinato insists the well-thought out, well-planned program is pure genius.

”Well, we are very proud of this program.”

Montana Democratic congressional candidate John Lewis has a different opinion.

Lewis is one of the Democrats who Republicans have targeted with their own site called JohnLewis4congress.com.

”I have seen a lot of unfortunate uses of deception in the last few elections,” Lewis told CNN. “This is just another in a long list of that.”

Lewis said Montana voters will be able to “see right through a website that is based on deception.” Still he bemoans what he calls outside interests backed by “dark money” trying to trick voters in his state.

Scarpinato at the NRCC says there are no tricks at all and disputes anyone’s claim that the sites are deceptive.

“I think that sites are clear in terms of the disclosure and the content where were coming from,” Scarpinato said. “And I also think it’s important for voters to get all the perspectives on the candidates. So just as a candidate is going to put information out about themselves, we’re going to put out information about the candidate that they are not putting out that we think is important for voters to know.”

And to do that, the National Republican Congressional Campaign says it will expand its building of fake sites.

Do Democrats do it, too?

The NRCC press secretary told us the Republican strategy is cleverer, but that Democrats have done the same thing.

One day after CNN’s interview Scarpinato directed CNN to a site mocking a Republican built by the Florida State Democratic Party, which the national Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee insists it had nothing to do with.

In a statement to CNN, the DCCC wrote, “It is not the DCCC’s practice to make websites that could be confused with the opponents site.”

Undeterred, the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks it has a winner and will create more fake websites as the 2014 midterm elections draw near.


Filed under: DCCC • NRCC
soundoff (1,426 Responses)
  1. M

    Are they afraid their ideas are not good enough to make it on their own

    February 7, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  2. Desel

    The Grand Old Party, the only way they can win is to cheat.

    February 7, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  3. Chewy

    Whiney liberal democraps got the boo hoos because someone else is using the democraps deceptions.

    February 7, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  4. JY

    Well, the GOP is just staying true to form, phonie... Period.

    Next political craze who can out phonie-site the other side...

    February 7, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  5. Tay

    Well, if you can't wing based on ideas and a vision for the future, find a way to fool the voters into voting for your candidate!

    What's next, fake names on the ballots to confuse voters!?

    The GOPee is total garbage!!

    February 7, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  6. mercfan

    This is an indication that the GOP can't win over voters because they have solutions to our current problems. When you stonewall by saying no all the time, can't come up with alternative solutions, and now resorting to this – it’s reprehensible.

    After the State of the Union last week, Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the GOP had a plan, but then didn't mention what was in the plan – because they really have no plan. You can't just keep on contradicting what the other party says and just say we have a plan and expect to win over independent voters. If you really had better ideas about resolving our problem, you would have to resort to disinformation by creating fake Democrat sites. American should demand more of their representatives than to just do nothing all the time. What's really sad is that even with a 9% approval rating, people will keep voting for these do nothing representatives.

    February 7, 2014 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  7. Ellen

    Anyone with a brain can figure out that this website does not support John Lewis before they even get to the Donate button. Once again the Democrates are lying to the public for political gain.

    February 7, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  8. Gurgyl

    Don't donate a single Dime to Republicans and their garbage for this nation, make sure your donation goes to right place. I prefer you to mail regularly. That way you are helping Democratic Party and democratic nation post office. God bless.

    February 7, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  9. wolf

    Leave to the RNCC, if you cant win elections, cheat, steal donations, rig votes, or change the rules so you always win. That's what "democracy" is to them.

    February 7, 2014 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  10. John K.

    Of course the GOP would do such a thing. Why am I not surprised?

    February 7, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. NealR2000

    Wow, for a moment there I thought I was on the Huffington Post website, not CNN.

    February 7, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  12. SeeThruIt2

    One side uses surrogates for their deception to set up deceptive sites and says its not their fault.

    February 7, 2014 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  13. Cathy

    Some of the "phoney websites" actually state that they're soliciting donations to DEFEAT the candidate – I guess the Dems are angry that their followers can't always read!

    February 7, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  14. TomInRochNY

    If you have to deceive people to win, should you really be running? Shouldn't you run on what you stand for?

    February 7, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  15. dbrinser

    Clearly, the Repubs have run out of worthy ideas of their own, so deception and discrediting their opponents are the only things they have left.

    February 7, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  16. Chris

    This is crazy that's down right fraud. You cant pose as someone else with the direct purpose of misleading another. If cant win on your own merits then don't bother running.

    February 7, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  17. oldbones24

    This isn't new, I discovered this 8 years ago. The GOP are artist at scamming the dumb masses.

    February 7, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  18. T. Lee

    No one should be surprised at this.

    There is no low Republicans won't stoop to. They could care less about the American people – just a lot of hyperbole and rhetoric desperately wanting/trying to return to power so the process of enriching the wealthy can resume.

    This latest "dirty-trick" is just one more in the sorry record of today's Robber Barons.

    February 7, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  19. pokydoke

    The Republican way, if you can't win on your platform, cheat.

    February 7, 2014 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  20. The Fact of the Matter

    So they're using phony websites.So what! All's fair in love, war – and politics; e.g. the Dems use phony voters. See?

    February 7, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. Dean

    There's nothing 'fake' about these sites. They show that the Democrat is a lousy candidate and to donate to and vote for the GOP candidate. What's wrong with the truth?

    February 7, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  22. Christopher Dow

    The GOP (the Godly Oppression Party) can't help it. They're liars, cheats, and spoilers motivated by greed who are out to destroy Democracy so that they can rule America without interference. The hand of Mammon directs everything they do.

    February 7, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  23. Bryant Lister

    Typical Republicans. They claim the Democrats have done the same thing, but the website they point to has the url: "floridadems.org" and makes no attempt to deceive people into thinking this was created by anyone else. The Republicans are using deceit because they can't win with facts.

    February 7, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Scarpinato would also like to sell you miracle weight loss pills and a certain bridge. This is the tactic of a loser who is certain they can not get elected on their merits.

    February 7, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  25. jkld

    I guess the RNC figures if they can't win it honestly, they'll have to STEAL it.

    Typical.

    February 7, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
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